Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

No more John Brunner, the noted British science fiction writer, died of a heart attack at the age of 60. Brunner was well known for experimenting with form and paid great attention to contemporary social issues. He shot to fame with his novel Stand on Zanzibar in 1969. He had given a fragmented narrative that treated the potential nightmare of overpopulation. Another popular book written by him was The Squares of the City based on a chess game played in 1892. Its underlying message was the dehumanising effect of computers.

Smokers justified Bill Clinton's efforts to get rid of slot machines and television advertisements promoting cigarettes was perhaps what inspired Richard Klein to stand up for smokers. His book Cigarettes are Sublime, makes an attempt to express what the act of smoking means to civilisation; and why the world that sustains it is valuable and should not be discarded. Klein points out that the introduction of the cigarette in 16th century Europe coincided with the beginning of what he calls the "Age of Anxiety... the development of ratio- nal, scientific methods and the concurrent loss of medieval theological assurances."

His other contention is that men and women of the developed countries smoked the most and that their greatness depended on the "wisdom and pleasure of spiritual benefit they took in a habit they could not abandon." To support his arguments he describes in detail characters of wellknown personalities like Pablo Picasso, Humphrey Bogart and Jean Paul Sartre.

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